Matthew Licht

Blue Smoke

She’d left her book face-down on the blanket while she tanned her back. I asked what she was reading. She looked up, turned the book and herself over, and said she was on her way to a post-graduate degree in Comparative Literature.

“Has anyone ever compared you to Marilyn Monroe?”

She said she heard it all the time.

The gloom in her apartment mysteriously added years to her face. She played it up with whispers and kisses blown into the air.

Marilyn Monroe said anyone who got her in bed was in for disappointment. This Marilyn pulled a sad face when I rolled on a rubber. She said she wanted to feel everything. But I went to college too, for a bit. You learn stuff.

New York Marilyn wanted music for the act. She stuffed a 45 in her plastic record player’s slot. Her favorite Italian single skipped.

Forty-Second Street was a few dozen blocks away. It felt like we’d have to joylessly pump away forever. A damaged loop conjured long-dead foreign summers, “Fumo blu, fumo blu…”

She yelled Joe when she came. Made-up names were like condoms, something I should’ve learned to use. She flopped around enough to eke one out of me, then slumped. The foxed mirror on the back of the door of her room reflected a couple in near-darkness.

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